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COA: Inmate must pay filing fees

April 14, 2010

The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled today on another case filed by a New Castle Correctional Facility inmate who had filed at least 50 civil actions.

In the for-publication opinion Eric D. Smith v. Jeff Wrigley and Lt. Gard, No. 33A04-0912-CV-727, Eric Smith, who is serving a 20-year sentence for arson, appeals the trial court's order denying his motion for waiver of filing fees in connection with his complaint against prison superintendent Jeff Wrigley and Lt. Gard.

Indiana Code states that prisoners cannot claim they are indigent and must therefore pay filing fees if they have already filed at least three civil actions that have been deemed frivolous by a state court, "unless a court determines the offender is in immediate danger of serious bodily injury," according to Indiana Code Section 34-58-1-2.

He claimed he wasn't able to pay the fees because he was unable to get a job in prison, something the opinion said had not been substantiated by evidence. He added he also owed $1,500 in filing fees for federal law suits.

The judges disagreed with Smith's claim that the code discriminated against a class of citizens, namely prisoners.

IL has covered Smith's cases before, including his loss of three appeals in June, and a minor victory in August.

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